Feb 192009
Authors: Jessica Cline

Thursday afternoon, veteran Washington Post correspondent, author and documentary filmmaker T.R. Reid answered the question of why America’s health care system does not work and why we need to change it.

Having witnessed firsthand the vast differences in democratic country’s health care systems, Reid focused his speech on the history of America’s health care and how, over the years, different presidents have tried and failed to change it.

“All countries do health care differently, but they all have on thing in common — they all cover everyone except us,” Reid said.

Reid recapped how over time, select American presidents, from Woodrow Wilson to Bill Clinton, fell short in their efforts to improve American health care.

This, he said, was in part because their ideas were either deterred or were shot down by doctors and insurance companies –/groups no one was willing to oppose.

“A crisis is a chance to make change,” Reid said to more than 200 students, faculty and community members who attended his noon discussion of “The Politics of Health Care” in the Lory Student Center. “Americans have figured out we have to fix this.”

Obama, he said, is off to a good start but Reid said he is worried that his efforts will be short-lived.

Reid voiced support of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., whose ideas mandate that insurance cover everyone and those who cannot find affordable health care can buy Medicare.

Reid said that if Washington’s politicians fall through in their efforts, reform is possible at the state level. He said that Colorado is a catalyst change.

“I really have to tip my hat to this part of the state for working at a change in the health care system,” he said of particular health care initiatives.

He said Fort Collins leaders — such as State Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, and local doctor Janet Seeley — are key examples of health care advocates.

Kefalas recently introduced legislation that, if passed, could provide universal health care for Colorado.

“John Kefalas is really actively trying to fix the health care system on a local level,” Reid said of the bill that aims to form a universal health-care system, but that wouldn’t be up for consideration until the 2011 legislative session.

Reid’s lecture served as an inspiration to journalism students and some said it brought to light a journalist’s higher calling.

“[The lecture] was very interesting because it gives journalism students a chance to see that we can make a difference and that one person can inspire people just by writing or producing something,” said Jessy Fiser, a sophomore journalism and technical communications major.

Deb Morris from Hartshorn Health Center agreed that Reid addressed a prominent issue but noted that there is room for further questions and investigation.

“I don’t know if he has all the answers, but he is asking some important questions,” she said.

While he strongly opposes the current system, Reid said he adopted a more optimistic outlook and feels like a universal health care system is in reach.

“It is possible to fix it, but first our country has to decide that we want to provide health care for everyone,” he said.

Reid is currently working on his newest documentary ,”Sick Around America,” that will air on March 31 and his newest book, “The Healing of America,” that will be released this summer.

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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